Situated just outside of Galway City, Glenlo Abbey Hotel in all of its Five Star finesse is picturesquely perched on the edge of Lough Corrib.
Walking up the flight of steps to the entrance and being greeted by a top hat wearing, beaming concierge immediately sets the Five Star tone for our stay. Check in is seamless with a receptionist that is so warm and welcoming. Our inner child ecstatic when we are handed train tickets to present when we attend dinner on board The Pullman Restaurant later that evening. This is one very special restaurant and it will soon become clear why.
Chaperoned by the delightful receptionist through the quaint hallway to our room we could never have imagined the palatial suite that awaited. The Grand Suites are comprised of a duo of dining/resting spaces along with a more than spacious bedroom and a marble finished bathroom.
A welcoming dessert plate of mouthwatering treats along with a delightful Sherry decanter was much appreciated and provided the energy boost needed to get outside and explore our stunning surroundings.
Before going outside to explore we decide to investigate all that is on offer inside. Abbey Movie Theatre is a stunning private cinema. The night we stayed the movie showing was Murder On The Orient Express, how very apt! Fresh popcorn and a cocktail in hand, we can’t think of a better way to round off an evening.
Downstairs, just beside the Oak Cellar Bar is the Billiards Room, a games room available to enjoy each evening. You can also indulge in a game of chess if this is more your thing. Or if like us, a cocktail with a side of people watching is your idea of an enjoyable activity, seat yourself in one of the beautiful bars and let the world pass you by for an hour or two.
All set to tour the outside offerings of this wonderful hotel we made our way back out. The dramatic expense of land extends right down to the waters of Lough Corrib. A pristine golf course is heavily occupied with keen golfers of all ages. The Abbey itself is a beautiful little spot and certainly enhances the overall sense of serenity. Lots of beautiful roses and lavender vividly scent the air.
Ready to dine, a quick change and we are on our way to the bar for a pre dinner cocktail. An Old Fashioned and a Martini were just the ticket.
The very thought of dining aboard two original carriages from The Orient Express had us giddy with anticipation. Two fully restored carriages are perched at the back of the hotel, taking in the sweeping views of the golf course and Lough Corrib. Stepping aboard we are greeted by our very charming, informative and dare we say, slightly theatrical servers for the evening. A fine bunch of handsome men that clearly love what they do and go to great lengths to ensure all diners are taken care of throughout this glorious food journey we are all embarking on.
An irresistible and super tasty Amuse-Bouche of Goats Cheese Taco with Pear & Dill. Amuse-Bouche always has that ability to be either amazing or completely irrelevant and not all that great of an addition to a meal. This was really good and definitely woke our taste buds right up.
Fresh Caraway Seed & Squid Ink Bread was far more delicious that we expected as was its plate fellow Dillisk Seaweed Bread. Hopeless carbohydrate lovers like ourselves were totally smitten with these home-baked bites.
We had been chatting about how tiny the kitchen here must be and we genuinely thought the hook of dining here was the experience not necessarily gourmet gastronomy. How wrong we were!
We started with Beef Custard, arriving to the table looking like a little pyramid of perfection. The mellow custard is clad with Pastrami, Rye Crisp, Baby Carrot & Bee Pollen. A very creative dish in its construction of flavours as well as the obvious aesthetics.
Our second starter was West Coast Salad. A little food bomb of textures and flavours. Presented to be eaten with the eyes as much as the mouth.Grilled Scallop, Octopus, Chamomile, Asparagus & Baby Gem. Juicy scallop, that unmistakeable love it or hate it texture of Octopus (we love it), fresh crunch of Asparagus and the mild mannered but slightly sweet addition of Chamomile balancing a little beauty of a plate.
Our starters highlighted the finesse that Head Chef Michael Safarik commands from his kitchen. With this in mind we were very much looking forward to the arrival of our main courses.
Our orders of Dexter Beef and Wild Halibut arrived ceremoniously to the the table. The saint and the sinner in food form.
A virginal white fillet of Wild Halibut sitting prettily on top of Wild Apple, Sous Vide, Fermented Yoghurt, Rhubarb, Pennywort. Though we are calling this the saintly dish on the table it tastes incredibly indulgent and there is a very clear knowledge of flavour behind this dish. The Wild Apple and Rhubarb pack such a punch, each forkful somehow tastes better than the last.
A volumptous chunk of Dexter Beef that had been so slowly cooked it had that gelatinized, melt in the mouth texture. So rich and full of flavour. Served with Wild Chervil, Ballyhoura King Oyster Mushroom on a bed of Whipped Smoked Backed Potato Puree, Celery Brown Butter. A cleverly executed dish that was deeply satisfying.
A bottle of Maine Lupé-Cholet, Chablis was our wine of choice for the evening. We love Chablis and this is a really nice one. Although many wouldn’t pair this with beef we found it went deliciously well with all courses and it is important to remember to order the wine that you actually like! Especially when you are ordering a bottle as opposed to just a glass.
With our final course for the evening winging its way from the kitchen we were hesitant for it to arrive, simply because this was an experience we were not keen to see the end of.
Quite often dishes, especially desserts are given wonderfully creative names on menus and then they arrive and it’s a bit of an anticlimax. Not the case in The Pullman Restaurant. From the menu we chose Plum and Irish Teeling Whiskey. Nothing over promised in writing. What arrived to our table was two little works of art.
Plum turned out to be a Roasted Oat Crumble topped with a feather light Raspberry Sorbet. A throughly enjoyable end to a fantastic meal. Irish Teeling Whiskey ticked all the boxes. Perfect for anyone that loves rich, luxurious desserts. Dark Chocolate Marquise, Whiskey, Pearls, Almond Crunch & Coffee Ice Cream. Not one morsel was left on the plate. A nice little Twany Port with this dessert while watching the sun set on Lough Corrib was a very special end to an outstanding dining experience.
In summary, if you are seeking a uniquely Irish, Five Star, luxury stay Glenlo Abbey ticks all of the boxes and has something for everyone. The solo traveler, couples, families and even groups of friends. The Pullman Restaurant has a quirky Joie de Vivre and a top class kitchen that is producing revolutionary food. This is a Five Star stay we strongly advocate.
Overnight rates for the Glenlo Abbey Hotel start from €153.00
Three Course Dinner in The Pullman Restaurant €69.00pp
Glenlo Abbey Hotel
Phone : 091-519600
Web : www.glenloabbeyhotel.ie
WRITTEN BY KEITH MAHON & OLIVIA BYRNE